The city of Budapest is one of the most brilliant gems of the Danube, a city that between the highs and lows of a millenarian history, full of legendary but also dramatic moments, has proved to be a perfect "bridge" between the East and West of Europe. This aspect has been confirmed for centuries by the close ties with Austria and Vienna in particular, since the time of the Habsburg Empire, which had its second capital here.

This can be seen in the Danube itself, a guide, a giant umbilical cord that ideally links Hungary to Europe and the horizons beyond the borders of the Black Sea. This is recalled by the attempts of rebellion over the centuries, by those who were considered "invader"; like the last, in 1956, that exploded in the period of Soviet control. You can finally understand this by pausing to admire the World Heritage sites of the city. Budapest is a unique, capital and true representative of its nation. Writing a guide to a city like this is not easy, but we will try.


Geography, history and art have contributed to create a place that fascinates and at the same time amazes. The current Hungarian capital was only created in 1873, combining the former separate cities of Buda, Obuda and Pest. The first two were on the western bank of the Danube, the third on the eastern bank. Budapest is home to 20% of the Hungarian population and accounts for more than 60% of the economic activities of industry and the service sector. All the revolutionary movements that have shaken the country began here, in Budapest is also concentrated the artistic and cultural life of the nation. Today there are almost two million inhabitants, divided into the 23 districts that make up the urban area (6 in Buda, 16 in Pest and 1 in the middle, in the island of Csepel, the largest island of the Danube).

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A language that seems indecipherable

Cartelli in UnghereseTourists who come to Budapest or the rest of Hungary are faced with almost indecipherable writings. It penetrates into vowels and consonants with a sweet and mysterious sound. The country, also from the point of view of language, is a strange splinter stuck in the heart of Europe. A theologian, Jànos Sajnovics, demonstrated that Hungarian was a relative of the Lapland. Linguists have always tried to understand where exactly you came from, from the Russian steppes, from the banks of some rivers far away, from the inaccurate East. Those who study the origins of Indo-European origin have ancient alphabets at their disposal. The uralists, on the other hand, a few magic inscriptions since the 12th century, and a "averse" against lightning strikes engraved in Karelian on birch wood. Over time, the Italian public has discovered Hungarian-speaking writers such as Màrai, Esterhàzy, Kosztolànyi, Ottlik, Krùdy. Late, it was also the universal recognition of the Nobel Prize, to Imre Kertész. Hidden in the rest of the way by a distant language, unknown to Indo-Europeans, Hungary has cultivated secluded but very beautiful literature for centuries. Able to enter into the mirages of humanity, into its fragility. Because, despite that, he has always found himself in the turbulent centre of the world.



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An ancient history 


The origins of Budapest are ancient, the first settlement is attributed to a Celtic strain tribe that dates back to the 1st century BC: Ak-Ink (that is, abundant water, significant in testifying to the presence of numerous springs and streams). With the advent of the Romans and the forced migration of the Celtic populations to the north, the small settlement was transformed into a military legion.

The settlement was called Aquincum, which in 198 AD. acquired the status of a colony, where it seems that there was a bigger theatre of the Colosseum that the "barbarians" destroyed.


The city has always been the hinge between two worlds that have clashed here for centuries. Romans, steppe peoples, Mongols, Christians, Turks, Germans and Magyars, liberists and communists. Here the oppressed become oppressors; martyrs, torturers; victors defeated; freeing occupations; revolutions against revolution; farcical tragedies. A Hungarian would tell you that. The grand parliament on the banks of the Danube, the result of an enormous self-esteem and ambition, was built in 1902, with 700 rooms, 18 courtyards, steeples everywhere, stained-glass windows, frescoes, marble, gold decorations, and soon became one of the largest in the world. After sixteen years, a palace of this kind seemed disproportionate for just ten million inhabitants. But by now they had built it and today we can admire it in all its splendour.


Terme di BudapestThe influence of ancient Rome can still be seen today, especially with the most characteristic legacy of the Hungarian capital, the thermal baths of Budapest. The city is also often called the "Paris of the East", comparing it in beauty to the "Ville Lumière", as one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. The city life is lively, fun and cosmopolitan, characterized by the running of the Danube, eternal presence, which divides the city into two, separating the historic Buda hill from the commercial and chaotic Pest. The two parts are connected by several bridges, including the famous Chain Bridge, which we will discuss later in more detail.

Terme di BudapestThe Hungarian capital is neither too big nor too small. Its right size makes it a pleasant place to explore. Moving around in Budapest is certainly not a problem, thanks also to the transport system of the BKV (Budapest Kozlekedesi Vallalat), the company that manages the bus, metro and tram network. If you prefer to use the taxi service, we recommend that you plan your itinerary and fare with the taxi driver before you leave, and also remember to have the receipt given in case of complaints or possible loss of your objects or documents inside the car.

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The districts of Budapest

The districts of the city are identified through Roman numerals. An address resembles something like H-1121 Budapest XII: the postcode is indicated first, followed by the district number, street name, house number and floor number. The same code is made up of 4 numbers, of which the 2 in the middle show the district. In the example, H-1121 is for the twelfth district (XII).



The hilly area of Budai Vár Castle belongs to the first district, in the part of Buda. Today it is difficult to imagine the damage suffered by the Royal Palace and the medieval and baroque residences during the Second World War, where we remember, 85,000 citizens of Budapest of Jewish religion lost their lives, among others.

Baroque style avenues of the Fo utca and Batthyany ter, where we find the most spectacular view of the city. The center is called Belváros and is part of the fifth district of Pest, in its interior we also find the avenue Kiskörút (literally Small Boulevard). Along its axis is located the characteristic Vasarcsarnok market (see Budapest's Central Market), at one end, and the Vaci utca, the shopping area.


The administrative section of Budapest, Lipotvaros, extends between Bajcsy-Zsilinsky and the Danube and includes the majestic Országháze Parliament Palace, which also houses the Holy Crown of Hungary (also known as the Crown of St. Stephen). The sixth district, constitutes the cultural center of the city, within it is located the Andrássy Út, the most beautiful boulevard of Budapest. Very interesting and full of life and cultural activities is the VII distetto, Erzsébetváros (City of Elisabeth), the most populous district of the city, which is located between the avenues Andrássy and Rakóczi út, whose inner part is the historic Jewish district of Pest, with inside the Great Synagogue, the largest synagogue existing in Europe, and the largest in Europe.

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A Muslim mausoleum in the centre of Europe


Tomba di Gül Baba - Budapest A very particular and interesting monument to Budapest is located in the so-called Rose Hill, the Mausoleum of Gul Babà (the name means "father of roses"), an implacable warrior who led a devout life, who died in 1541. One of the few remains of the great Ottoman invasion in Hungarian land, one of the last, very rare symbols of the Muslim conquest in Europe. The tomb of Sultan Gul Babà is located at number 14 Mecset Utca, and is accessed after climbing a staircase in one of the most beautiful and ancient streets of Buda. 

He was a legendary and mysterious character. The mausoleum is a sacred place for Muslims: for centuries the Muslim faithful have been on pilgrimage here in the heart of Europe. Gul Babà died on September 2,1541, during a ceremony of thanksgiving in the Basilica of San Mattia, then sumptuous mosque: he fell suddenly, in general amazement. The Turks had conquered Buda only nine days earlier (they were to be driven out of Europe in 1686). The warrior was consecrated patron saint of the city by Suleiman II the Great, who had the mausoleum built for him. Around, many roses, to remember the wonderful gardens of the East.

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Many sights to see

The tourist attractions in Budapest are numerous, among the main monuments are not to be missed the Royal Palace (Királyi Palota), in the complex of Buda Castle, where there are also the National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria). Nearby there are also the Fishermen's Bastion, the Church of Matthias (Mátyás templom), the museums of the Hill (military, music, Jewish, among others), all the bridges of the Danube and in particular the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd), the island of Margitsziget and its park, the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Aquincum in the museum of the same name. Today's Budapest is by far the richest and most cosmopolitan city in Hungary and is increasingly popular with tourists. In 1987 he was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List for the cultural and architectural significance of the banks of the Danube, for the Buda Castle district and the beautiful Andrássy ut boulevard.


So many places to see as well as many good restaurants, which are almost an aperitif to a varied nightlife. After an intense day of visits, the evening is dedicated to the flavors of local gastronomy, with the possibility to spend little money despite the luxury restaurants. During the day you can visit interesting museums and historic churches, (among them the beautiful St. Stephen's Basilica) and between them take a break in one of the many bohemian-style cafes. Water and spa. The city is full of it, 70 million litres of hot thermal waters flow out every day from 118 natural springs, many of which are outdoors, in a square or corner of a tree-lined avenue. In the evening, if you prefer, you can opt, why not, for a show in the Budapest Opera House, one of the most important in the world, and then finish the evening in one of the discos of the city.

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A city born from a bridge

Ponte delle Catene - Budapest
If we really have to dwell on one of Budapest's many attractions, it is perhaps right to do so, not only for the palaces and churches, but also for a bridge. Someone claims that the city is the daughter of the Chain Bridge, built thanks to the skills of a noble man, Count Széchenyi, who financed its construction, and designed by an English engineer: William Tierney Clark. In 1830 Budapest, then the second city of the Austrian Empire, had no fixed bridge over the Danube. A bridge of boats, which was dismantled in winter to avoid the damage caused by the icy river, allowed only uncomfortable connections between the three then still divided cities of Buda, Pest and Obuda. But this story is long and we refer you to the page on the Chain Bridge for further information.


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Sisi and Budapest


Sissi e BudapestEmpress Elisabeth of Bavaria, now universally known as Sisi, after the hugely successful films of the 1950s, became an icon of Vienna, like the Sachertorte, The Blue Danub of Strauss, the Secession and the smokeful intellectual cafes. But Budapest could also boast the same icon on Sisi in many ways. Elizabeth was very much loved by Hungarians. When in February 1867 Francis Joseph granted the Constitution to the Magyar people, it was known that the greatest work of persuasion had made her, Sisi. Hungary gave her the Godollo Castle, a wonder, amidst forests and horse riding grounds made for her, who lived there many times satisfying her passion for hunting and horses, Hungarian horses, bred in the puszta, the great Hungarian plain, wild means, fine as Arab horses, nervous and vibrant as English horses.

Despite his horror at the official court ceremonies, Sisi was subjected to the coronation party in Budapest, Queen of Hungary. She felt loved by the Hungarian people and she loved him. He perfected in the Hungarian language, read Hungarian poets, even received opposition ministers. "You know - he said - " I do not mean politics. But the best policy - one of his ministers replied - is to conquer the heart of a country and your majesty has been perfectly successful".

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The Hungarian Revolution of 1956


Parlando di Budapest, delle sue strade, dei suoi monumenti e delle sue tante bellezze, non possiamo fare a meno di parlare brevemente di quella che passò alla storia come Rivoluzione Ungherese del 1956, un sogno di rivalsa democratica, che in qualche modo ispirò il mondo intero e che venne, tra lo sgomento internazionale, soffocato nel sangue dall'intervento delle truppe sovietiche, nelle stesse strade che vi accingete a visitare. Poiché è sempre meglio ricordare, per non dimenticare, vi accenneremo quei momenti. Anche in questo caso  vi rimandiamo per un approfondimento alla pagina sulla Rivoluzione Ungherese del 1956.

Rivoluzione Ungherese del 1956
Speaking about Budapest, its streets, its monuments and its many beauties, we cannot help but briefly talk about what went down in history as the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a dream of democratic revenge, which in some way inspired the whole world and which came, amidst international dismay, suffocated in blood by the intervention of Soviet troops, in the same streets that you are about to visit. Since it is always better to remember, so as not to forget, we will mention those moments. Also in this case we refer you for further information on the page on the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.


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